“Fear of failing is the number one killer of grand plans and good ideas.” – Co-Active Coaching, 4th addition.

Everyone is afraid of something.    Some people are afraid of spiders or snakes.   Others have a fear of public speaking or a fear of heights. Over my years of working with people and teams, there is one fear I believe we all struggle with but hardly ever express in words.   The fear of failure.

We live in a society where we are pushed to be perfect. This push can be overt, but most of the time it is subtle.  Instagram and Facebook are full of other peoples “perfect lives.”  Be honest, have you viewed a post from a “friend” and thought, even for a moment, that they have a better life than you?  Most of us don’t post our failure for all to see.

Fear of Failure has stopped many dreams and projects long before they start.  The consequences of failure don’t even need to be real.  The mere belief that failure could happen is enough to stop many dreams dead in their tracks.   The bigger the dream, the more the fear of failure can rear its ugly head.

One way to minimize the fear of failure is to break down a large goal into a series of short-term goals. For instance, losing 20 pounds before a tropical trip this winter might seem overwhelming but breaking this down into smaller goals of 5 pounds each start to seem achievable.  Why does this work?  It works because the task doesn’t seem as difficult or daunting, so we feel less fear and anxiety.

While smaller goals are a great start, a system is needed to turn them into reality.  Without a system, goals are just a dream.  With a system, the habits and behaviors that prevented us from achieving our goals start to change.    This is the power of combining goals with a system.

So how do goals and a system to support them work together?  Let’s look at the previous idea of losing 20 pounds.  First, we break this larger goal down into small goals of 5 pounds each.  Then we design the system needed to accomplish this goal.  For instance, we can take out the calendar and plan which days to go to the gym.  We will also need to adjust our food intake.  Maybe we choose to try a low carb diet or reduce the total calorie intake.  Once we have the systems set, we implement the new system.

Note: you will not create the perfect system the first time.  By starting with small iterations like a week or two weeks, we can evaluate if the system is working.  Are we able to get to the gym as we planned?  Are we dropping weight? What about our food intake?    By tracking our progress over a short time frame, we can determine if we are tracking to our goal or need to adapt the system.  If changes are needed, only change one or two things at a time.  Then apply the system for another iteration and measure the results.

Planning small goals with a system might seem like common sense, but it is common practice?  How many goals do you want to accomplish but haven’t taken the time to create a system to support them.  One of my personal goals is to become a better writer.  Instead of just dreaming about it, I’ve set up a writing system.  Writing posts like this are part of my system.   I would like to say that I follow my system perfectly, but I don’t.  I am human just like you.

What about you?  What goals do you have? What system can you create to accomplish your goals?

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash